Project Food Budget

I am super excited to announce that as of yesterday, I am officially a blogger with Project: Food Budget!

For this project, I join a number of other bloggers in working towards lowering our weekly grocery bill.  I’m adding in, “while still eating a whole foods, plant-based diet.”  Our fearless leader is Emily Levenson from {Custom Made} Life.  This is her second go with the project and this time, she’s doing it for a full year.  It officially started Oct. 6, so I’m a little behind.  However, since I’ve been trying to achieve the same goal on my own for about as long (with some weeks being more successful than others), I think I’ll still get a full year in!

So what can you expect from this little project?

Every Thursday I’ll be posting about my efforts with the project.  The content will likely vary week-to-week but you can expect some drool worthy food photos (well the food will be drool worthy…I can’t make any promises about the photos!), some number crunching as I show you what I spent saved and how, highlights from my weekly menu, and more.

I have several goals for this project, some of which are informed by my new found couponing addiction habit (I promise to highlight my mad couponing skills in later posts…expect to be jealous).  They are…

  • To spend no more than $30/wk on groceries and $40/wk total on food, health, household, and beauty products.
  • To save as much as, and preferably more than, I spend (effectively doubling my purchase).
  • To never pay full price for anything that comes wrapped in plastic, in a box, or in a bag.
  • To experiment in the kitchen with money-saving projects that I am currently intimidated by (e.g. making my own veg stock and yeast bread) or too lazy to do (e.g. making my own nut butter and flavored nuts).
  • To continue cooking the meals I want!
  • To purchase locally-grown produce whenever possible.  To purchase only organic varieties of the “Dirty Dozen” foods.  <–something I’ve been unsuccessful with.  However locally-grown with minimal-no pesticide use > organic.
  • To purchase packaged foods only from those companies that are ethical, supporters of local business, and, preferably, independently owned (as opposed to, well, not).

These last three goals are not to be at the expense of the first four as right now my primary goal is to save $.  With school in my future, I don’t see this goal changing much over the course of the next year.  I’m truly looking forward to the challenge these goals will present with regards to both budgeting and couponing.  I know there will be times when I have to sacrifice but I am going to do the best I can, live up to my standards, and be satisfied with what I’m doing.

Some other fun facts about me + my eating habits:

  • Everything that comes out of my kitchen is vegan.  95% of the time I follow a whole-foods, plant-based diet but will sometimes indulge in dairy, eggs, non-vegan baked goods, or vegan “junk” food (e.g. flavored nut butters or nuts, pre-made veggie burgers, etc).
  • With few exceptions, I shop and cook for just myself.  When I entertain friends, I do my best to cook from the pantry.
  • I am a recipe tester for a friend’s cookbook and must test at least 3 recipes/wk from the book-to-be.  Some of these must be desserts which means some extra expenses beyond what I normally would purchase (I’m not a HUGE baker)

I think that’s it!  I’m excited for you to join me on this new venture and to share my experiences with you all.  I’ve been trying to find a way to incorporate my couponing adventures here and now this gives me the perfect excuse opportunity.  I hope you will gain something from these posts and enjoy it as much as you have my, shall we say, deeper posts.

Here is a list of the other bloggers involved with the project if you want to check them out!

* Emily Levenson
* Dairy-Free Cooking
* Test Kitchen Tuesday
* Acquired Tastes
* Fit Flexitarian
* Warm As Pie
* Katy Rank Lev
* My Inner Healthy
* Little Blue Hen
* xox, b
* What da Health?
* Project Food Budget 2.0
* Ignition Nutrition
* A Nice Heart and a White Suit
* Because Hobbies Happen
* Primary Focus Health Coaching
* Chicken Tender
* Fresh…A New Chapter
* Whole Living Gal

I’d love your feedback about the project and, if you’re a blogger, feel free to contact Emily to join the project too!

Yoga/beauty/savings/life,

Kait xo

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Long Overdue

Oh dear its happened again…I’ve gone too long without writing.

I’m sorry dear readers.

This time, at least, my excuse is valid.

Last Wednesday evening (as I was driving home from yoga, mentally prepping to do a Revelations post as usual), my grandma suffered a stroke.

😦

Needless to say the holidays were a bit subdued…and rushed…and stressful.  My cortisol levels are just beginning to stabilize as I’ve been sucking down these guys…

eating lots of healthy soup…

and getting some much needed nookie sleep.  The inflammation is going down with the help of my ever sexy splints and their latest addition: compression sleeves.  You can take a number.  😉

Christmas this year was very different (shocker, I know).  We spent as much time as possible in the hospital (or driving there and back).  I finally celebrated Christmas  Eve with Bren’s family and then my Aunt had us over with her husband’s family for Christmas day.  We managed to find some sense of normal, specifically opening presents all together Christmas morning followed by a yummy brunch (vegan french toast casserole included!) but otherwise, Christmas quietly and humbly passed us by.

By the time I returned to the Woo on Monday I was so drained that I decided to take Tuesday off as well.  Five days of playing loving (grand)daughter/niece, patient advocate, medical speak translator, shoulder to cry on, and source of strength and knowledge had done me in.  I needed some time to return to normal, to numb out (in a healthy way this time) and just BE.  I went to my hand therapy, caught up on e-mails and the like, went to Zumba, cooked, baked and started to feel normal again.

For now, at least.

I’ll be home again this weekend (albeit longer than expected now) so, in that way, I am happy this all happened now and not on a weekend when I had volunteer commitments and parties and other things that I cannot so easily drop.  I am grateful that I work in a hospital and therefore know how to navigate “the system.”  I am relieved that I have not become so jaded that I no longer can explain complex medical language and diagnoses in laymen’s terms so that my very un-medical family can understand what is going on.  I am proud that over the last week+ I was able to step up and into my full self, playing dragon lady when needed, being unapologetic in my advocacy for my grandmother’s care, and truly testing (successfully) the limits of my strength.

So it wasn’t Christmas as usual or as planned.  Nevertheless, the spirit of the season came through in huge ways.  Beau was there every step of the way, even spending most of Thursday and part of Christmas day at the hospital with us.  Friends and family offered prayers, positive energy, help, and dinner invites.  I developed a deeper bond with my family than I have ever felt before.  If that isn’t what this season is about, then I don’t know what is.

Oh – and Santa did a pretty good job too.

Wednesday Revelations – The more you hope

This is a story about a cookbook – the BEST cookbook ever to be precise.  It is also a story of the consequences of hoping too much, reacting too much, attaching too much.

I’ve had the cookbook for about 3 weeks now.  I had this post mostly written (and have since updated it) but got caught up in the whirlwind of cooking and being productive.  The story, however, still needs to be told because the lesson is one that I think we can all apply to something in our lives.  For me, its my physical ailments.  For you, it can be anything.

Long story short, what I went through waiting for this book has was a strong lesson in how far I have to go in terms of non-attachment and being less reactive.

Let me back up.  I pre-ordered back in August, made sure that my free Prime trial would still be good, and started counting down the days.  When you fall in love with a cookbook, you cannot wait for its sibling to arrive.  I cook from the original Happy Herbivore Cookbook at least once per week.  Usually, all of my meals come from it.  I’m also a recipe tester for the third cookbook that Lindsay is currently writing.  So yes, I was excited when EHH was being released early.  And even more excited when it was discovered that pre-orders were being shipped as early as Monday, November 21st!

For some reason, or more precisely to teach me a much needed and perfectly timed lesson, the Universe thought it would be funny to delay this book a whole week.  Yes, I realize that  some of you are thinking I’m batshit, but bear with me.  And see the above comments about my love for the book.  😉

I anxiously awaited my shipping e-mail from Amazon.  Monday passed…so did Tuesday.  Wednesday came and still nothing.  I had some wine, I ate some food, and I contacted Amazon to say WTH?!  It turned out there was an issue in the fulfillment center and my book was being delayed.  But don’t worry…they took care of it.  And they’ll give me a $5 promo certificate for my order.  And no there really isn’t any way for them to give me more.  And oh wait…when I tell my story to a person over the phone, I magically get $25.  And I’m ok because my book will be here Monday the 28th and what better way to end Thanksgiving weekend than with a cooking bonanza.

I hope the stream-of-consciousness of that paragraph gives you an idea of where my head was at during those weeks.  It was not a pretty place.

Guess what?  The book didn’t get picked up until Monday because UPS was closed by the time I thought to contact Amazon on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  And unlike FedEx, UPS would give me absolutely no information about getting in touch with the local distribution warehouse to go search for pick it up myself.  I was bummed.  I moped.  I even cried a little.  I was also going on very little sleep and lots of weekend traveling so no judging please.  And then I figured I’d deal with it.  I also ate…a lot.

On Tuesday (the 29th), I woke up under the weather (nose bleed plus aching thumbs…happy Tuesday to me).  I went to yoga, did laundry, wrote this post, read my blogs.  I got my exercise running between the couch and the front window each and every time I heard a truck slow down.  I went up and down the stairs too many times to count just in case they dropped it without knocking first.  I got frustrated, depressed, and upset.

I really failed in the whole be-present-and-non-attached-and-peaceful thing.  I was pretty diva-esque.  Especially since the UPS truck was across the street during the afternoon and I hesitated about running to meet it and demanding my package…only to look out and watch it disappear down the road.  Which begs the oh-so-practical question: why do the neighbors get their packages at 2:30 and us, after 5?  WTH?!

Anyway, back to the story.  I kept saying, is it really asking too much to just get my damn book?  I mean seriously…that’s all I want Universe.  I’m asking “why am I being presented with this challenge?” and the answer was not coming like it normally does (easily and quickly).  In fact, it took until after I had received the book and received the news I didn’t want last week in order for me to truly see the lesson in this experience.

When you want something too much, so much that it hurts, you often will not receive it.

Source

I’ve given this advice to so many people seeking something (especially a relationship)…”don’t want it so much and it’ll show up when you least expect it to.”  Well that advice was kicking me in the ass pretty hard.  I was full of jealously and greed and conceit.  Why did THAT person already receive it?  How come I don’t have it yet?  Me me me…and I want I want I want.  <–all pretty negative energy I was spewing, wouldn’t you agree?  So no wonder UPS came so late to deliver…I’d avoid the house with the crazy black cloud over it too!  Knowing this didn’t make it any easier while I was waiting.  The cortisol was pumping through my body and I was miserable for two days.

Over a bookAnd yes not just any book but a book I desperately wanted and knew would make my life better. <–except only I can choose to do that, right yogini Kait?  RIGHT?!  But a book nonetheless.

I kept making excuses about why this was upsetting me so much…other people made mistakes, I deserved it, etc.  But at the end of the day, I’m not sure.  What I am sure of, however, is that the second I stopped obsessing and waiting and started doing something else, my phone buzzed, and it was here.  Literally…it took less than 20 minutes of me switching my focus to editing my personal statement and BOOM!

All was right with my world.

I got right into action mode and cooked 3 recipes in about an hour.  The next morning I woke up before my alarm and hopped right out of bed.  I got to work on time and got to work (if you know what I mean). I feel energized despite only getting about 5 hours of sleep.  I wanted to go go go!  The feeling lasted the whole week.

Here is what I wrote the day following my receipt of the book:

Apparently, all I needed was a dose of newness get my booty in gear.  And I love the feeling.  And wish I hadn’t wasted two days moping.  In hindsight, I did try to figure out why I was so down and out and miserable.  I wish I wasn’t…but I couldn’t figure it out.  I still can’t.  Maybe it’ll come to me after yoga tonight…maybe not.  Its in the past now though so I’m going to try and be like a dog and go on with my day like there was no yesterday and is no tomorrow.”

Learning in progress.  Self-realization, does indeed, rock.

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo

Thirsty Thursday – Prohibition Style

Friday morning this had to happen:

Yes, that IS over 3 cups of detoxifying, kale-filled smoothie for you.

Why did I indulge in this deliciousness?  Well because Thursday night this happened:

Source

OH YEA.

I’ve written about my undying love for Niche Hospitality restaurants before (and here too).  Beau couldn’t make it up for this Bourbon society event and I scrambled to find Worcester-area people to go but once I offered to drive, it was all bets off.

As usual, the folks at Niche created an amazing party.  Live music, scotch tastings, hot and cold hors d’oeuvres (including the most amazing cheese plate and Waldorf salad), and $25 for all-you-could sample punches featuring Dewar’s (the event sponsor) 12 year bourbon.  How could that not be a good?!

Now let’s talk more about the spirits.  When Dewar’s signed on as the event sponsor, two things happened.  One, they sponsored a blind tasting of three 12-year old scotches: Chivas, Johnny Walker, and Dewar’s.  Not to ruin it for you, but that was the order in which we tasted them.  The Chivas was the least smooth, least sweet, heaviest, and most tobacco/smokey.  As you went up the line, they adjusted accordingly.  The Johnny still won my heart because the Dewar’s was just too sweet for my tastes.  Being the lightest and smoothest of the bunch, it also didn’t have that fire to it that will keep you warm on cold lonely nights…  😉  The JW could have been smoother but it was small price to pay to get the fire I crave.  <–take that as you will.  We also received free Dewar’s flasks just for trying.  When the girl came over to give them to us, Kay, Ant, and I all got outrageously excited and hugged her.

True story: We think we’re still in college.  *Shrugs*

The second thing that occurred when Dewar’s signed on was that the head bartender (spirit genius? mixologist extraordinaire?  you choose) tasked each of his bartender’s with creating a punch using their 12 year scotch.  You could either get a mason jar (!) full of one punch for $6 or little glass teacups to try each one (as many times as you’d like) for $25.  You can guess what we chose!  We also got to vote for our favorite punch.  Since we split the $25 three ways, we only got one vote.  In the end it came down to the lemony Baby Maker and the wintery White Christmas. The latter won by default of it being the Christmas season.  All were good and gave us a chance to try different types of drinks that I would a) never think to order or b) simply didn’t know existed.  The most interesting was the Milk Punch. We had no clue what it was, but luckily the bartenders are so knowledgeable that they took us through the process (boiling, removing the curd, straining, and straining some more…or something like that). 

Knowledgeable, calm, and efficient bartenders: just one of the many reasons I keep going back.  The triple Niche Hospitality reward points (for being a Bourbon Society member and visiting on a Thursday) don’t hurt either.  😉

Speaking of awesome bartenders, they were only one part of the reason one friend, who has never been to any of the Niche restaurants, was super impressed by the entire place.  As he put it, “This is the classiest place I’ve been to in Worcester!”  Stick with me buddy, I’m one classy broad.  Ok stop laughing now! Seriously though, I’m a foodie and beer-and-wine snob.  Beau and I judge bars based on the draft selection, followed by food offerings.  The club scene just isn’t for me.  The Niche Restaurants and the free events on the other hand, definitely are.

Now speaking of it being super classy, we were among the youngest people there (if not the youngest).  The three of us didn’t care but this further highlighted my points from above re: being classy having good taste in bars.  Just in case you did for a second get confused about my lack of class, I’m pretty sure every single person thought we were drunk the entire night even though we weren’t.  <–that’s typical when you put a group of Stonehill loves together.   Good drinks + months/years of catching-up + inappropriate touching generally signals that.  For us though, its the sober norm.

After finishing the punches I treated myself to a Maple & Maine.  Kay had to leave so Ant and I stuck around, he flirting with the Dewar’s girls and me enjoying every sip of my perfectly mixed drink.  I dropped him off, headed home, kicked my shoes off, curled up under my snuggie and promptly fell asleep.  In fact, the last thing I remember as I drifted in and out was roomie quietly (and therefore sweetly because he was respecting my couch sleeping) saying goodnight to this monster.

You know you’re jealous of my red counter tops.

Around 3 am I garnered the strength to relocate to my bedroom (because, you know, the other side of my apartment is super far away), texted beau (“Made it from couch to bed #win” haha), and slept until the morning.

Another great thing about being a drink snob: no hangovers.  Well at least not the blinding-headache-nausea-feel-like-you-want-to-die type.  Just the general fatigue of not sleeping well thanks to the alcohol’s effects on your body.

And that brings us right back here.

yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo

Wednesday Revelations : What if

What if…

instead of asking “What do you do?” we started off conversations with, “What’s awesome in your life?”

instead of complaining, we took the time to inquire, act, and change

instead of numbing out, we learned to breath through our pain, sorrow, and suffering

instead of using conversation as a way to air our dirty laundry, we used it to connect

instead of listening for a break in the other person’s story so that we can jump in, we open our hearts and our ears

instead of saying, “yes” to please someone else, we learned to gently say no

instead of cursing our challenges we look for the lessons in them

instead of jumping into healing others I needed my own healing journey so that I can always stay grounded

instead of ignoring our deepest desires we learn to ask for exactly what we need…and receive that and more

i love you all

yoga/beauty/gratitude/life

Kait xo

Conflicted

“I thought I was finished with this,” she mused, holding back threatening tears, tears that would show her weakness, her brokenness, her vulnerability.

This is not the portrait of a contented person.

Today was supposed to be about the next step.  I was going to receive the news that I could be healed, fixed, unbroken and that each day will get easier.

I was supposed to taking the first step towards sleeping without braces, practicing without modifications, and living without pain.

I loved the therapist, don’t get me wrong.  She was kind and patient and knowledgeable.  And she has been here.  She’s felt the pain and the anger and the betrayal  She knows what its like to drive your loved ones crazy because you feel so broken that you lash out at everyone around you, to stray from sex because you feel so ashamed of what your body has become that you can’t possible imagine how someone else could find it attractive, to want to know why and how the hell can I fix it.

She’s been here – and I don’t know if its a giant blessing or a huge curse.

Because she basically told me to adapt and move on.  That I’ll might never regain full function.  That I’ll be modifying for the rest of my life.  That this could get worse.  That the EMG might be necessary because permanent nerve damage is the other option.

And right now I don’t possibly know what to think.  And I don’t know who to turn to because I feel like I don’t really know anyone who would get this.  And because, quite frankly, all I want right now is to throw my hands up and let someone else drive.  But there’s no one around who can do that.  So its back to me being on my own…as always.  Or uprooting and starting again.  <–really what do I have to lose?

Its times like these when I wish I could have moved back home, that I would have been able to stay sane.  Or, even more, that beau and I would be together.  So I could come home tonight and crumple into a ball and just heave out my feelings in tears, gulps, shakes, and gasps.  But instead I’ll return to my apt, full of despair mixed with hopelessness, and sit alone.

I almost went home today but then I realized I could either numb out on my couch or numb out on my job.  At least at the latter I’ll be making somewhat of a difference, offering someone the comfort I’m in desperate need of…

xo